When the Rangers traded Vlad Namestnikov to the Ottawa Senators late Monday, thoughts immediately went to how the Rangers will fill the gap. Discussions were about Filip Chytil, Vitali Kravtsov, or even Vinni Lettieri being called up. There were talks about this being a move that leads to another, larger move. In reality, the trade is what it is – a salary dump of a $4 million fourth line winger.
While the trade is what it is, there are still implications for the future roster. The fourth line is currently Lias Andersson centering Brendan Smith and one of Micheal Haley and Greg McKegg. That is not likely to change any time soon, especially given both Jeff Gorton’s and David Quinn’s recent comments that the trade was solely to create immediate cap flexibility, while also creating open roster slots for kids in the future.
That, of course, is to be taken with a grain of salt.
Asked DQ about Lias' minutes and they'll stay where they are for now. He can earn more if he plays well enough to deserve them. Said for him, being here and playing few minutes is better than getting first line ice time in HFD. (As opposed, to, say, Chytil.)
— Colin Stephenson (@ColinASteph) October 8, 2019
After all, if the current players earning more ice time aren’t getting it, then the skepticism regarding Quinn’s comments about creating room for youngsters is valid. It’s only two games into the season so it is a little too early for rash judgment, but it is something worth keeping an eye on.
Current prospect status on the NHL roster notwithstanding, it will be one of Haley or McKegg lining up on the fourth line for over $3 million less than Namestnikov would have cost them. That itself is a positive, especially while the Rangers only have one game between now and the end of next week.
The hockey season will run its course. Injuries will happen. Call ups will happen. Players will get a taste and then be sent back down. Eventually Ryan Strome –if he continues his subpar play that has been a cause for concern since preseason– will be off the second line. Chytil will get a call up, and probably stick some point during the season. Kravtsov soon thereafter. Just not yet. There’s no rush.